My daddy... And, my excuse note for my absence - Lynn Fern

My daddy... And, my excuse note for my absence

I want to first say I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and the New Year brings you much love, peace, happiness and proves to be prosperous to you!!

Apologies for not being here on the blog.  I know I've missed some comments & responding to them. I have lots of other news to share with my furniture and my booth.  But, all of that will come in a separate post.

Sometimes in life a sudden change occurs that is completely out of your hands, and out of the timing you were expecting or even wanting. 

Back in late October my father began to feel some slight pain in his rib area.  It continued on into November.  He has extreme COPD/Emphysema so we know that there will be times he will feel much worse than an average person with a cough.

In the second week of November he was having an increase extreme pain in his ribcage area & couldn't even lift his arm without it knocking him for a loop.  This was on a Saturday evening, and he called me to come over.  He is a veteran so I took him over to the VA hospital.  At this time the blood work & chest x-rays came back fine.  The doctor suspected a pulled muscle and sent us on our way.

Now being COPD & the medications he is currently on they are not able to give him muscle relaxers or pain killers to help heal the pain.  The doctor told him to take Tylenol every 4 hours.

The Friday prior to Thanksgiving we had spent the day together at Mt. Airy Casino.  On our drive home he again couldn't cough without extreme pain, even his breathing became labored and wheezy.  But, the pain wasn't in the ribcage any longer.  It had been working its way around over the week throughout his chest & through his shoulder blade area.  He was going to be flying out on that Monday to California to my sisters for Thanksgiving.  I felt we needed to have this looked out before he boarded a 7 1/2 hour flight.

We ended up in the ER in Cornwall.  We had been told that if it was after hours or the weekend to go to our local hospital since the VA was on limited staff.  During this 8 hour visit to the ER he was diagnosed with bronchitis and the doctor would've liked to have kept him overnight.  But, dad wanted to come on home. 

He was given an IV of Solu-Medrol (steroid) and moxifloxacin (antibiotic).  He was sent home with the antibiotic levaquin and a higher dosage of prednisone.  He made the decision NOT to fly out to California was made.  It broke my heart that he couldn't go.  But, it turned out it was for the best....  By Tuesday we were back to urgent care at the VA and they admitted him into the hospital. 

He was wheezing and his lungs were tight.  Yet his blood work & chest x-rays came back fine.  He was in the hospital through Thanksgiving and was there for a week.  During his stay he was on a high dosage of Solu-Medrol and moxifloxacin.  He didn't have the pain he was experiencing.  Now this is key... The pain he was experiencing was gone during his hospital stay.

He was discharged on December 6, and within a week we were back over at urgent care because the pain had come back.  The doctor said blood work and x-rays were fine.  He said it was COPD exacerbation.  And, then the doctor said to me that with his COPD this is what we were dealing with, his lungs were destroyed.  The doctor also said it was time that he no longer live alone and we should schedule a visit with a social worker.  During the time that daddy would cough and the pain would hit him he'd have a hard time catching his breath.  We made the decision that it was time to start making the move in with us.

I have been going to his doctor appointments, etc with him!!  He was still having this pain, shortness of breath and coughing more than usual.  I wasn't fully convinced this was all just the COPD.  We saw his primary doctor & she as well advised it was time for him to move in with us.

I have done a ton of research regarding COPD, pain, etc.  My other sister Sandy was visiting my nephew in Boston for a couple of weeks, and they all came to visit us this last weekend.  While here her & I discussed the situation until 3 in the morning, and as we sat listening to the cough we decided if he wasn't better I'd be taking him onto the hospital.  She gave me some great pointers to get additional tests run.  They went back to Boston Sunday morning.  During the visit she witnessed the cough, the sneeze that basically threw him from the barstool to the floor due to the abnormal pain.

By Sunday afternoon we were back at the ER in Cornwall.  This time I wasn't leaving until we had more than just blood work & chest x-rays.  I got my way!  His oxygen saturation would hoover around 93 - 95, but this is not telling you what the accurate level is unless they do a arterial blood gas test.  FINALLY someone was listening to us.  The blood work & x-ray was fine, but the blood gas test came back with a 75% oxygen level, and his heart rate was never lower than 112 and at times was staying around 125.  Something was being blocked to not allow the flow of oxygen and therefore was making his heart rate rise to pump faster to help get that oxygen. 

They sent him to be admitted into the hospital at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh.  When I got there Monday morning I again became pushy and said I wanted a pulmonologist to see him.  The nurse on staff agreed with me, and helped ensure that the attending doctor ordered for a pulmonologist to come into see him.  I waited all day finally leaving around 8 pm.  The doctor stopped in around 10 pm, but daddy was a little out of it.

On Tuesday morning the pulmonologist came back, and agreed that something was going on deeper than the COPD.

He had an infection that wasn't showing up on blood work or chest x-rays, and because dad has COPD it was easy to write him off as it just being COPD exacerbation which it was not.  The doctor ran a few other tests along with a sinus scan & a mucus culture, which is what finally gave us the answer to what we were dealing with... Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Dr. Profeta (pulmonologist) has taken complete ownership of dad as a patient (which he isn't dad's regular doctor) to ensure that dad heals properly.  I appreciate that more than he will ever know.  I had a phone conversation with him and I was impressed. 

Dad hasn't had any of the pain over the last couple of days since being on the antibiotic.  The doctor felt that once we get him on the right antibiotic the pain will go away. It was a pretty specific question I had - "how could we treat this pain since we couldn't put him on muscle relaxers?".  Since he was on the steroids & antibiotic the cough had suppressed. In turn the muscles were beginning to relax & heal. 

A note is that prior to this pain, for the last 5 full months his health has been phenomenal for a COPD patient.  He has only been on oxygen here & there.  He's traveled places by himself.  And, out of nowhere this abrupt change took place.  My instinct was correct all along...

Despite the COPD, dad's health is pretty darn good.  But, he is living with us fulltime now which we have all enjoying him being here.  I will be caring for dad fulltime (with the help of my awesome husband that provides so much support).  His doctors just felt it was time he had someone with him & could help assist him.  When we rebuilt our home, we built an en suite specifically for the care of my parents.  It is large with larger doorways for a walker/wheelchair. 

Daddy's spirits through this entire ordeal has been amazing.  The staff at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital was above & beyond awesome.  I've met some incredible people that provided some valuable information.  I've learned a tremendous amount about COPD.  I've also learned that when you are caring for someone you are their biggest advocate, and that means sometimes becoming over the top pushy (raises hand proudly).

Since he's been home this time and we have a clear diagnosis, he has been doing so much better.  For the first time in almost 2 months he sat & ate dinner with us without his oxygen!  That alone is a feat!!!  Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month....we are going to enjoy life to its fullest!

I am fortunate & beyond blessed to be in a position that I am able to do this for my dad (he spoiled me, showed me unconditional love, and still does..now it's my turn to do that for him).  My focus in life has changed a little, but not entirely.  I will still have my booth space & will be working on my furniture.  I have moved my space to a place closer to us (it is a place that is just opening in February), but only takes me 10 - 15 minutes to get to as opposed to 45 minutes to an hour.  I believe that things have been happening over the last several months to prepare us for this.  I also have one of the most supportive husbands.  He has most graciously welcomed my father into our home, spends time with him, and makes trips to his apartment to help move his belongings here.

My girls love and I mean love having him here with us.  They asked every single day when he was coming home...they missed him. He is enjoying home cooked meals and having the girls run around loving on him is pretty amazing medicine. 

If it wasn't for the abundance of support from the family (both sides) I am not sure I'd get through all of this with my head still intact.  My family here has stepped up to help with my girls when needed, always checking in on dad, and just loving us all through this.  My sisters have all given me a ton of support & expressed their appreciation for what we are doing for dad.  Both of my sisters in California are in the medical field & have provided a ton of information to help know what to ask for & when.

I won't lie...the last couple of months has been hectic. We have spent a crazy amount of time between hospital & doctor visits, and our holidays from Thanksgiving through the New Year went by in a blur.  I didn't get to really share the house decorated for the holidays, so you will have to take my word for it...I just loved it and honestly just started taking it down tonight!  But, we enjoyed the holidays and we were together as a family.  There is only a couple of things I'd change & the most important one is the pain that dad was feeling, but I feel it moved us in a direction we needed to move in.  I believe we have been put in with one of the best pulmonologists in the Hudson Valley which will also serve as dad's primary care doctor.  This is what we needed!

I enjoy my blog and sharing all of my fun finds, furniture repurposing or our DIY projects. I also have loved & enjoyed getting to know so many through the blog and my facebook page - Fern Avenue Blog, but it had to take a backseat to life.  We are getting into a groove, and so I will be back to bring so much to you...hopefully I won't overwhelm you too much!

We are looking forward to what 2014 will bring.  It's going to be a good year!

Much love, peace & happiness to you & your family!

~Lynn
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